Minister defends special adviser amid criticism from MMIWG families

Cora Morgan is “more than qualified,” Families Minister Nahanni Fontaine said

Families Minister Nahanni Fontaine speaks at a news conference in Winnipeg on Jan. 16. Photo: Jared Delorme/APTN News

Nahanni Fontaine is defending the appointment of her new special adviser on Indigenous women’s issues amid criticism from some members of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) families in Manitoba.

Cora Morgan is “more than qualified,” Fontaine, the minister for families, women and gender equity, said at an unrelated news conference Wednesday.

“The core of that position is to develop a strategy of prevention. We have a sacred responsibility as government to ensure that we are doing everything within our power to end the epidemic of violence against (MMIWG2S+),” Fontaine added.

Morgan was appointed to work with Fontaine as a special adviser and secretary to the cabinet committee on MMIWG, Two-Spirit Peoples and gender-based violence on Jan. 11.

Yet, some members of the MMIWG community continue to question the appointment.

“I’m very disappointed they didn’t reach out to the families first,” said Sue Caribou, a Cree woman living in Winnipeg who has lost seven people in her family to murder and two are missing.

“Why did we have to find out from family member to another family member to another family member? I wouldn’t have known if one of the family members didn’t reach out to me.”

Read more: Former AMC official named special adviser on MMIWG2S+ in Manitoba

Morgan, who was the First Nations Family Advocate at the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs for seven years, has been unavailable to speak with APTN News since her appointment was announced.

Fontaine said Morgan’s expertise with child welfare, which is considered a pipeline to child sexploitation, is invaluable in the province with the highest number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

She said Morgan would be meeting with politicians, communities, survivors and families to help build the prevention strategy. Both Fontaine and Morgan are members of Sagkeeng First Nation, located about 120 km north of Winnipeg.

But Caribou said some families feel MMIWG is not Morgan’s issue and plan to protest outside the Manitoba Legislature next week.

“I will be there 100 per cent if the families want to go to the (legislature) and use their voice,” she said. “They’re very disappointed in her (appointment).”

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